The Tulip Touch

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Natalie, who lives in the large hotel managed by her father, has a dangerous friendship with Tulip, the wildly uncontrollable girl on a neighboring farm.

Natalie, who lives in the large hotel managed by her father, has a dangerous friendship with Tulip, the wildly uncontrollable girl on a neighboring farm.

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Overview

Natalie, who lives in the large hotel managed by her father, has a dangerous friendship with Tulip, the wildly uncontrollable girl on a neighboring farm.

Natalie, who lives in the large hotel managed by her father, has a dangerous friendship with Tulip, the wildly uncontrollable girl on a neighboring farm.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Natalie and her parents know that Tulip, who lives on the impoverished farm next door, is a compulsive liar. Still, they are spellbound by the odd, imaginative details of her stories ("the Tulip touch," as Natalie's sympathetic father calls it). Even though Tulip tries to hide the abuse she suffers from her own father, her anger and humiliation reverberate during the years she is best friends with Natalie, who narrates this exceptionally insightful tale set in Fine's (Alias Madame Doubtfire; Flour Babies) native Britain. As Tulip's games grow nastier and more intense (her ideas of fun include badgering strangers and setting fires), Natalie comes to her "full senses" and makes a break, suddenly realizing that although it may be too late to change Tulip's life, there is till time to save her own. Fine offers a fascinating study of a much-victimized child striking out at the world. Her novel is unusual in that it offers both an insider's and an outsider's point of view as Natalie shifts from Tulip's loyal sidekick to removed observer. Provocative moral questions arise from this chilling portrait. Is Tulip's fate sealed? Could Natalie's parents have helped her? Natalie, riddled with pity and guilt, remains unsurea realistic conclusion to a story that does justice to the complexities of its theme. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"This exceptionally insightful tale offers a fascinating study of a much-victimized child striking out at the world," said PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Donna Freedman
Child abuse, and the reluctance of people to get involved, are the underpinnings of this disturbing story. Tulip is wildly imaginative, which comes in handy when she has to explain a bruise, an absence from school or an apparent lack of supervision. She spends long hours with the narrator, Natalie, who is Tulip's only glimpse of decent family life. As her own world deteriorates, Tulip's behavior becomes increasingly menacing and dangerous. Natalie is too young to understand that her friend is crying out for help, and wants only to get out of the friendship; the adults in the story simply don't want to see what's going on, and turn their heads. It's a sober and often creepy story, but a strong read that will probably start some heated discussions in the classroom.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9A provocative, disturbing novel about an intense friendship between two girls, narrated by Natalie after she extricates herself from Tulip's control. When her parents take over the management of a hotel, Natalie befriends her new neighbor, though she senses something strange about her. She soon learns that Tulip is an inveterate, glib liar whose attendance at school is sporadic and whose behavior is vindictive. Still, Natalie is loyal to her exciting, unpredictable friend. As the years pass, Natalie finds herself simultaneously fascinated and repelled by Tulip, who is capriciously cruel to her and whose invented games seem to center on causing others discomfort. Eventually Natalie becomes frightened by her friend's reckless acts of arson and her inclination toward sadism. She abruptly and painfully pulls away from her. But this self-rescue comes at the price of great guilt. Though Natalie rightly questions the lack of responsibility adults in authority have taken for the sordid, warping circumstances of Tulip's home life, she knows she will feel forever that she abandoned Tulip to her inner demons. This deeply felt, convincingly described examination of a complicated relationship leaves many issues properly unresolved. It would be a wonderful springboard for discussions about the limits of individual accountability, the proper scope of community obligations, and many other aspects of interpersonal commitment. It is also a very good read.Miriam Lang Budin, Mt. Kisco Public Library, NY
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9--Natalie realizes she must cut herself off from Tulip, whose lies, cruelty, and need to control threaten to destroy them both. A haunting novel about the sometimes malevolent nature of friendship. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
The author of Alias Madame Doubtfire (1987) and, more recently, Step by Wicked Step (1996) mines a darker vein with this study in malevolence.

Exploring the countryside around the elegant old hotel her father is now managing, Natalie first sees Tulip standing in a field holding a kitten; later in school Natalie makes overtures of friendship, not realizing until too late that Tulip is a social outcast and perennial discipline problem as well. Enthralled by Tulip's fearlessly antisocial behavior, Natalie surrenders her will and common sense, playing along in a succession of pranks, cleverly subtle harassment, and quiet, mean games with hair-raising names—Rats in a Firestorm or Road of Bones. In Fine's view, Tulip is to be pitied as much as feared, for her twisted, uncontrolled nature has been molded by an abusive father—but all of the adults in the story come in for a share of the blame, too, aware of Tulip's situation but, beyond handwringing, allowing it to continue. After a game of Wild Nights ends in arson, Natalie finds herself abruptly free of Tulip's spell and breaks off the friendship. Tulip retaliates, and on Christmas Eve, the hotel goes up in flames. Fine expresses with canny precision her protagonist's ambivalence and soul- searching, challenging readers to see how fascinating such repellent behavior can be. A moving, complex story.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440227854
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/11/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 149
  • Age range: 11 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 650L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.91 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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